Interviews

We Pay Statutory Royalties to those who create the music-Achille Forler, Founder, SyncMama

We Pay Statutory Royalties to those who create the music-Achille Forler, Founder, SyncMama

Achille Forler is the founder and managing director of the Indian-based sound design agency Music Curator and member of the advisory board of the The Indian Performing (& Mechanical) Right Society. He founded Deep Emotions PublishingIndia’s first full-service music publishing company in 1995, which was acquired by Universal Music Publishing in 2012. From 2012-2016 he was managing director of Universal Music Publishing, India, but left Universal to establish the sound design agency Music Curator with branches in Thane/India and Lisbon/Portugal.

SyncMama features music from almost 6,000 professional musicians. The company is constantly expanding its repertoire to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of content creators while maintaining the most competitive pricing. SyncMama’s audio search engine, copyright management tools, and royalty distribution are powered by artificial intelligence and automation.Music is the hidden driver of the digital revolution. Be it social media content, podcasts, gaming apps, OTT platforms, edutech tutorials, or a simple Powerpoint presentation, excellent background music amplifies their impact. With Sync Mama, even the smallest or most remote content creators can use the music of composers who work with the world’s most successful films and TV shows.In a freewheeling chat with Achille Forler he talks about music business,SyncMama and more.Excerpts from an edited interview:

Q1. Hello, Tell us about your music business journey?

A.It started in the early Nineties when I was Attaché for Film, Broadcasting, and Music in the French Embassy in Delhi. Several French productions, “Oxygen” (Jean-Michel Jarre), “Yeke Yeke” (Mory Kanté), “Soul Makossa” (Manu Dibango), and “Didi” (Khaled ), were massive hits in India. I made a market study of the music industry to find potential partners for French labels when I realized that no collaboration was possible. Local labels worked outside the global royalty system. Music creators were forced to part with their copyright, but the record labels did not administer them. As a result, everybody in the royalty chain was losing out. The same was true for the film industry.

India is one of the few countries whose cultural products — films, music, dance —were appreciated and purchased worldwide. Copyright is the currency for all these industries. Knowing how copyright work and how royalties flow, I saw a business opportunity. I resigned from the foreign service to set up Deep Emotions Publishing, the first music publishing company in the country.

Q2. Tell us about ‘Syncmama,’ the world’s first-ever royalty-included music licensing platform?

A.When I was with Universal Music Publishing, I saw the rise of the UGC market and the inability of our standard licensing process to answer the need for micro-licenses. After that, I became absorbed in my work for the IPRS, but I noticed the rise of ‘royalty-free’ platforms with alarm. The market was split between the incumbents who serve the large traditional users — ad agencies, broadcasters, etc. ¬— and the ‘royalty-free’ newcomers who serve the micro-users — individuals and small professionals.

The insight came in April 2020, during the first confinement. I suddenly saw the fatal flaw in the business model of these platforms and how to turn the copyright system to the advantage of micro-users. SyncMama is the first service to address these two markets simultaneously: through an ‘eat-all-you-can’ subscription model for individuals and small companies and through the traditional ‘blanket licensing’ modelfor large content creators.For those who don’t understand, ‘royalty-free’ means that artists are hired workers, gig workers, daily wagers, producing music for a flat fee; all the money you pay to use their music goes to the platform’s owners only. Yet, they want you to believe that ‘royalty-free’ means you won’t have any problems using the music. Do they give you a license? No, they say: “it’s royalty-free; we assure you we have your back!” They take away the artists’ right to royalty and prevent them from registering their compositions with a copyright society. This is what you must know. First, the Indian Copyright Act debars royalty-free music.Two, nobody will have a problem using SyncMama’s music: our licenses are in the name of the subscriber, valid worldwide, and perpetually. Three, SyncMama has a library of 400,000+ tracks and growing against the 35,000 tracks of the biggest ‘royalty-free’ platform. Last and certainly not least, WE PAY STATUTORY ROYALTIES to those who create the music.

Q3. How Sync mama helps composers/content creators?

A.SyncMama is a distribution platform functioning on a sub-publishing model. We do not want to own the copyright in the compositions; we only control it when the compositions are on the platform and pay the royalties. All the rights revert to the composers or the publishers when they leave the platform. Until 2012, the Indian music industry was based on work-for-hire, i.e., no royalties were paid to music creators. As a result, the library music business, or production music, could not take root. Most of the Indian music that you find in libraries around the world is made by foreigners. Now that IPRS is integrated into the global royalty flow, with 300+ crores income, it makes sense to invest in such libraries. The Covid crisis, when production and touring stopped, made artists acutely aware of the importance of royalties.

Q4. What advice do you have for people entering this field now?

A.Lyricists and composers can make additional income, or even a good living, with production music. We see the rise of production music catalogs like Heard Music in Mumbai (available on SyncMama) or Dibbl in Delhi. But production music has its codes, which creators should learn.First, I recommend reading “A Composer’s Guide To Library Music” by my friend Dan Graham, founder of the Gothic Storm premium libraries, which can be found on SyncMama. Second, create a free account on SyncMama and see how the music is organized into themes, with edits and stems.

Q5. Tell us about your future endeavors?

A.You can search the Internet, but you will not find a platform like SyncMama that serves all users. The next step will be to complete its architecture to make it a global, entirely automated platform. The rights owners will have access to a dashboard where they can see the usage of their music in real-time and royalty distribution will be automated. I want to make SyncMama the most flexible, efficient, and transparent music licensing platform.

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